Cinque Terre, La Spezia & Pisa
On this trip to Italy we head to the west coast of where we based ourselves at La Spezia. From here we an explore the Cinque Terre and Pisa, both of which we plan to visit.
Ragusa | A beautiful baroque town in the centre of Sicily
Ragusa is one of the most picturesque towns in Sicily. the view from the upper town over Ragusa Ibla on its own separate hill top is quite breathtaking. Ono fo the Unesco listed baroque towns of South Eastern Italy, Ragusa is also one of the principal filming locations for the Italian detective drama Inspector Montalbano.
How did we get to Ragusa?
If you happened to read about our time in San Vito lo Capo then you’ll know that before Ragusa we had a few days relaxing on the beach before stopping off at the Villa Roman del Casana to see the Roman Mosaics. After that and on route to Ragusa the weather changed dramatically. Thunder lightning and the heaviest rain you’ve ever seen.
It was during this thunderstorm that our little cinquecento decided to have a puncture so there we were, in a lay-by in the pouring rain changing little Cinque’s tyre. Good job we had our Triangle Rosso! Tyre changed we made our way to Ragusa. The whole journey from San Vito lo Capo to Ragusa with a stop off for an hour or so at the Villa was around 6 hrs and 363 km
Where did we stay in Ragusa?
As it was my birthday, Chris had booked a really swanky hotel for our two night stay here in Ragusa. The Relais Antica Badia was a beautiful hotel and just perfect for a bit of luxury for my birthday.
Our room was part of the old building with exposed ancient brickwork which curved round the ceiling. The linen was superb and the bathroom was beautiful with a brilliant shower and plenty of hot water. As I was my birthday Chris had arranged a bottle of bubbly and a basket of fruit so that was a nice additional touch in our room.
- Breakfast was one of the best breakfasts we’ve had. In one of the old ballrooms of the hotel long tables were filled with fruits, cereals, breads, meats, cheeses, salads, yoghurt, cakes and you also had the choice of eggs and toast. There was everything you could imagine and laid out in the most beautiful setting. I absolutely loved breakfast.
- Wifi was brilliant and even with the thick stone walls we still got a strong schedule.
- The concierge service and reception were excellent and not only took care of our poorly cinquecento by arranging for a new tyre to be fitted. They also were fantastic at recommending some restaurant to try and I’ll tell you more about those below.
- They also had a spa and a menu of treatments you could try. We didn’t sample any of these as we wanted to explore the area and didn’t have time.
I would definitely recommend this hotel. If your in the area and want something more than a run of the mill hotel then this is a good one to choose even if it is just for the breakfast.
What is there to do in Ragusa?
Ragusa Ibla/Ragusa Superiore
Ragusa is split into 2 parts over to hill tops. Ragusa Superiore is the more modern part with museums, restaurants, hotels and shopping. Ragusa Ibla is on the adjacent hill and is a Unesco world heritage site and home to the baroque churches and buildings that make Ragusa famous. It is easy to walk from one area to the other however there’s a lot of steps to climb up and down.
Visit the Duomo di San Giorgio
This is a fantastic baroque church which features in the opening credit of Inspector Montalbano as well as some of the episodes. Dating from around 1775 it really is a beautiful building and you can find out more information here.
Take an Inspector Montalbano Tour
There are loads of companies offering Montalbano tours as this is the key place where the detective drama is filmed. My advice, wait till you get there and choose one of the local tours available in Ragusa Ilba. There are plenty of signs show who’s offering tours and they range from 1 hr to 1/2 day to full day. Something to suit everyone.
Take a bus down to the town of Modica
Modica is famous for its chocolate and is a pretty little town. There is a regular bus service from Ragusa to Modica and the schedules can be found Here. You can buy tickets online or from the driver. The journey takes mourned 40 mins and the buses run approx 5 times per day.
Modica, like Ragusa, is famous for its baroque buildings and again like Ragusa has a Church of Saint George. Its also extremely famous for its history of chocolate making and generations of families have made chocolate here. A superb destination for foodies. Modica chocolate is rich, dark and crumbly, produced in a traditional method imported from the New World by Sicily’s Spanish overlords. It can be melted, or eaten solid. The most famous chocolate-maker is the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto. A family of generations in the production of chocolate. Behind the counter you can see into the factory and the chocolate artisans at work. There are tours you can join throughout the day and a shop where you can buy this delicious chocolate.
Ragusa – The Food
There are two restaurants we tried for dinner when we visited Ragusa and I’m going to tell you about them here. There was also another restaurant that we stopped off at for our evening aperitivo but we didnt eat here. Let me know if you visit any of these.
Trattoria da Luigi
Probably one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten in whilst in Italy. This was a husband and wife team, husband as chef and wife as front of house and the food was exceptional. I had the ricotta filled ravioli in butter sauce with a hint of sage and it was amazing. I also had a traditional Sicilian dessert cassata. I could have eaten here again and again.
Taberna dei Cinque Sensi
What can I say. This restaurant gets excellent reviews but sadly when we visited we must have been there on an off night. We chose this place as my birthday meal restaurant and it was a bit disappointing. The food was not on a par with Da Luigi where we’d eaten the previous night but hey, have a go if you’re in the area as it still gets fantastic reviews and offers a menu of traditional Sicilian food.
Ristorante Tipico Ragusa
Our pre dinner aperitivo was usually taken here as it was quite close to the hotel and they did a mean aperol spritz. They had quite an impressive drinks menu but we never ate here to have no info on the food.
Cinque Terre, La Spezia & Pisa
The route to Vulcano. After leaving Rome we headed to Palermo on an overnight ferry which was an experience in itself.
Agrigento is known for the ruins of the ancient city of Akragas in the Valley of the Temples, a vast archaeological site with well-preserved Greek temples.